Expressing Needs & Feelings… Not Just Thoughts

One of the keys to speaking with empathy is a rich vocabulary that expresses needs rather than thoughts. Here’s the bottom line the more clear you are about what you want the more likely it is you’ll be able to get it. Maybe not exactly when where and how you like to, but you have a much better change of getting your needs meet.

“You just don’t love me any more” or “You have changed” is likely a better description about how you are evaluating your relationship, then your actually feel, which might be “I feel discounted, unseen, underappreciated.”

There are basic human needs that we all share.

  • Autonomy (choose ones dreams, values; choose a plan to fulfill ones goals, values, dreams; independence; space; freedom; spontaneity)
  • Integrity (authenticity, creativity, self-worth, meaning, honesty)
  • Connection (acceptance, love, belonging, community, closeness, emotional safety, love, reassurance, respect, trust, support, consideration, understanding, security, empathy, cooperation)
  • Play (laughter, fun, joy, humor, leisure)
  • Physical nurturance (air, food, water, shelter, rest, exercise/movement, touch, sexual expression, protection from danger)
  • Meaning (celebration of life, awareness, harmony, inspiration, peace, hope, knowledge, discovery, effectiveness, purpose, learning, clarity, self-expression, work, efficacy, growth, mourning, mattering)

Feeling Words for when needs ARE being meet… just the tip of the iceberg

Alive Excited Invigorated Secure
Amazed Fascinated Loving Serene
Astonished Free Mellow Thankful
Blissful Friendly Optimistic Thrilled
Buoyant Glowing Peaceful Touched
Calm Helpful Proud Tranquil
Composed Hopeful Pleased Upbeat
Dazzled Inspired Relaxed Warm
Encouraged Involved Relieved Wide-awake

Feeling Words for when needs are NOT being meet… just the tip of the iceberg

Afraid Cool Embarrassed Irate
Alarmed Dejected Exhausted Jealous
Aloof Detached Fatigued Jittery
Annoyed Despondent Fearful Lonely
Ashamed Discouraged Frustrated Mad
Beat Disenchanted Gloomy Miserable
Bitter Disgusted Guilty Numb
Bored Displeased Helpless Panicky
Brokenhearted Downhearted Hesitant Reluctant
Concerned Edgy Impatient Shaky
For more information see: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D. or The Center for Nonviolent Communication
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